Latch key kids

I do not believe that there is a specific age. I think that it varies depending on the maturity level of the child, and if that child would know what to do in case of emergency.
You would not want to leave a child of 6 at home alone but I would say at 11-13 you could for short lengths of time.
Again, this would depend on the maturity level and also if there are neighbors that are home, other children in a neighborhood that are there.

I began riding the bus home in middle school and it was just me and my sister a couple years older for over an hour until my stepmother came home. We did chores or homework but were not allowed to leave the house until she came home. I do not believe that my sister was allowed to stay home alone prior to that due to the schedule and school she went to at that time.

We looked into this a couple of years ago and found that there was no legal age specified in NC. The only thing I could find is that the fire department does not recommend children under 8 (I think that was the age) to be left alone at home for any length of time. For the purposes of DSS etc it is evaluated on a case by case basis. They look at things like the maturity of the child, proximity to neighbors who are at home, if child is aware and can react appropriately in an emergency, how long are they by themselves, etc.

There is no specific age, this is generally left to the discretion of the parents. If a parent is not using this discretion wisely, the other can us this as evidence in a motion to modify custody, and DSS may be called to step in.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.787.6361 main fax

Charlotte Office
301 McCullough Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte, NC 28262
Main Phone: (704)307.4600
Main Fax: (704) 9343.0044

Durham & Chapel Hill Office
1829 East Franklin Street
Building 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 321.0780


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At what age is a child legally able to ride the bus home after school and stay alone until his parent comes home from work?